First things first – There is a bad news and there is a good news. First the bad news. In her nine year long career that started in 2003 and resulted in 30 outings as the leading lady, Priyanka Chopra’s success rate has been just around 50%. And now the good news. Despite a career that has seen a constant flip-flop ever since she first came into limelight with Andaaz, her first flick as a quintessential Bollywood heroine, Priyanka today finds herself in the list of top Bollywood actresses. What has only made this journey special is the fact that, while her box office journey has been eventful (to put it mildly), the performer in her has seen a constant growth with every passing year. Simply put, if someone would have remarked nine years ago that the girl who was playing a second fiddle to Preity Zinta [The Hero] would one day walk away with murder after killing her seven (or were they actually six?) husbands [7 Khoon Maaf], it would have met with a mocking response of ‘Oh really!’
A mixed beginning
Years ago when Shah Rukh Khan was paired up with Manisha Koirala in Dil Se, the vacant slot of the second leading lady was greedily grabbed by Preity Zinta. Circa 2003 and there was a role reversal of sorts with Preity Zinta turning into the leading lady for Sunny Deol‘s The Hero and Priyanka Chopra pitching in as the ‘other heroine’. Frankly, it was as unassuming a start as one could have imagined, something that has continued to flummox many out there till date. One fails to understand what really was the need for Priyanka to actually step into an action affair like this which – a) hardly offered her anything and b) made her play a second fiddle to Preity. The film, despite being seen by many, wasn’t quite a success due to a heavy price tag attached to it. Worse, Priyanka didn’t have anything to cheer about in this film which was a Sunny Deol show-reel all the way, especially post the Gadar wave.
Fortunately for Priyanka, she didn’t have to wait much longer for fame coming her way as in her immediate next film Andaaz, she was romancing Akshay Kumar. Yet again, she was not quite the only one to be hogging all the limelight. There was Lara Dutta as the leading lady as well who eventually got her man with Priyanka finding a lonesome ending for herself. However the girl had made her mark. Unabashed in her body display and exuding oomph, Priyanka also showed to the entire world that there was an actress in her waiting to be explored. The film was a hit and for Priyanka there was a stepping stone firmly in place. Need of the situation was laying down of many more stepping stones that would have allowed her to move ahead in her career.
An eventful year ahead
Confident about her act, Priyanka went on to sign around half a dozen films at this time. Unfortunately for her though, not all of these were actually boasting of the kind of content that hits are made of. Ok, so she didn’t quite have many choices since she was a newcomer after all but films like Plan and Kismat are the kind that one could sniff from a distance away. Her first and last pairing with Sanjay Dutt notwithstanding, Plan was a goner. Kismat with Bobby Deol is a film that no one has even heard of as there was absolutely nothing in to be cheered about, whether it’s plot or the music. Asambhav, the classiest of the lot, could have done much better had it not clashed with Neha Dhupia‘s sleaze-show’ Julie which was the ‘in’ thing during the year 2004. All three being action masala affairs with heroines being roped in as mere props rather than expected to demonstrate any histrionics, they flopped hence resulting in a huge setback for Priyanka.
Thankfully though, there was a much better second half of the year lined up that brought her back into the reckoning. The films in question? Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Aitraaz. This time around Priyanka found herself playing a central protagonist in both the flicks. While in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi she was seen in a cute and lovely ‘avtar’ with both Akshay and Salman flipping over her, Aitraaz had her getting into a bold dare bare avtar as she got into Demi Moore mode a la Disclosure. Playing contrasting roles in both the films, Priyanka proved her mettle as an actress and also enjoyed box office success for herself.